Jessica Gardner Reporter

Jessica covers Australia's technology start-up scene, writing on breaking news and trends in entrepreneurialism, media and marketing. She was previously named Australia's best New IT Journalist for 2011.

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Is BigCommerce the next Atlassian?

Published 07 September 2012 13:40, Updated 10 September 2012 06:44

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Is BigCommerce the next Atlassian?

Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani: Raised 20 million beans from US VC investors

The founders of online shopping software platform BigCommerce, Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani have bagged a Series B funding round of $20 million. Their series A backer, Boston venture capital fund General Catalyst Partners participated in the round, joined by VC Floodgate – a fund run by Mike Maples – which has taken stakes in Twitter, textbook rental powerhouse Chegg and washed-up news aggregator Digg.

The round brings the capital raised by the duo to $35 million and values the fledgling company at more than $150 million, according to Dow Jones VentureWire.

Pretty impressive for a hosted shopping cart service for online retailers, which only became available three years ago. These days its software powers 30,000 online stores that pay a monthly fee of between $24.95 and $300 for the software as a service product. With a lazy $20 million in their pocket to hire more developers and bring on more sales and marketing firepower, it makes you wonder how much bigger these guys can get.

Could they be the next Atlassian? And what does that actually mean? Well, for one, it makes a good headline. But in all seriousness, the Australian technology scene needs more companies of Atlassian’s size and stature.

The emergence of exciting start-ups like Ninja Blocks, ScriptRock and Posse are great for creating buzz and fostering a culture that embraces innovation and taking risk. But it’s the more established technology companies like Atlassian that employ large swathes of smart IT graduates, encourage global ambition and generally lay the foundation of a strong local technology industry.

And of course, because the enterprise software powerhouse has been around for a decade, it has a huge customer base that pays substantial revenue and creates solid profit. This final point is of course the aim, but is still a way off for many start-ups.

There are some similarities between BigCommerce and Atlassian. The power pair at the helm of each is a start. Both were founded on the “start with low overheads and get something out there quick” philosophy. Atlassian was founded in 2002, funded by $10,000 in credit card debt. BigCommerce was spun out of Harper and Machalaani’s software company Interspire – the early days of which involved the couple coding in a room above a mobile phone shop in the Sydney suburb of Rozelle.

The names of Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar come up in the vast majority of interviews that I conduct with young technology company founders. They are (rightly) idols for many of the young, ambitious hackers and hustlers out there.

But I reckon Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar might be getting sore shoulders, carrying the weight of expectation of a generation of young developers and coders. The pinnacle of achievement would be to see their heroes list on the NASDAQ – partly for the milestone to put the Aussie tech sensations even more firmly on the map. And partly because many believe it would set off a chain reaction of Atlassian employees turning angel investors as they cash in their options or, indeed, founding their own start-ups. Whatever the case, maybe Harper and Machalaani could lighten the Atlassian duo’s load.

BigCommerce isn’t the only technology company turning heads. Which company do you believe could be the next Atlassian? Write and share your views.

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